Bird Droppings March 5, 2014
What is it like to be caught up in a moment of quiet?
Well it has been a day or two since the last occasionally coo or whisper on the baby monitor in the living room went off. My son and his family found a great little house nearby and are in process of moving. Many mornings that was the only sound I would hear from where I sit after I start my morning along with walking out to a smiling moon and clear sky after rain and storms most of the night. This morning it was silent no residual sounds of neighborhood air conditioning or traffic, no breeze to rustle pine needles and leaves over my head, it was utter silence. Then as I was absorbed in listening to the stillness the breeze started up moving circularly around my head the leaves rustled adding just a hint of sound to a blissful morning.
I picked up a copy of an old book Foxfire 2 from a box as I sat back down and opened up to a section on raising sheep and spinning fleece. Featured in this edition was Fred Darnell whom I had met so many years ago as one of the oldest purebred sheep producers in Georgia and the nation. The book was written in early 1970’s and Fred was a resident of the North Georgia Mountains. I had the privilege several years later in 1985 to interview Fred and walk about his picturesque farm nestled in the mountains near Clayton Georgia. As I looked around his farm there was development sitting along the ridges, it was literally a tourist spot.
On his farm a beautiful stream flowed through pastures and the mountains went up both sides of Fred’s valley. He had been born there and his family had lived on this piece of land for four generations. Fred raised purebred Hampshire sheep and had for nearly fifty years on that farm. He had been through ups and downs in sheep business and was content to work his farm perhaps the notion that daily he had offers in the millions of dollars for his farm sort of kept him going. It seems real estate folks wanted his valley for summer homes and condos. He enjoyed looking about and as you looked at the mountains surrounding his farm there were huge homes atop nearly every mountain. He mentioned this was his retirement fund but he didn’t plan on retiring anytime soon. I always wanted to go back and somehow never found the time although I would like to think that valley is still there with a quiet stream running through it and green lush pastures running up the sides of the mountains to the timber line.
“The supreme act of forgiveness is when you can forgive yourself for all the wounds you’ve created in your own life. Forgiveness is an act of self-love. When you forgive yourself, self-acceptance begins and self-love grows.” Don Miguel Ruiz
I was cleaning out boxes from years gone by moving from one storage building to another the other day and found some notes from May 8th 1998 which is the spring before I closed my publishing business. Nearly sixteen years ago I was President of a publishing company and living in the middle of a pasture and reading my thoughts of impending defeat was difficult. I knew my business was failing and I was failing my family or so I thought. Sixteen years have passed and I came back to teaching which had been something I desperately missed for nearly twenty five years. Reading my thoughts from so long ago brought back so many memories many journeys have taken place since then and many trails traveled.
“A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.” Henry Adams
I was thinking back today talking with a student on how I got to where I am so many doors and pathways, colleges attended, cohorts formed, people were met and discussions held.
“The dream begins with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called ‘truth.’” Dan Rather
Where were these teachers along the way? As I think back to second grade and sixth and seventh and eighth maybe ninth grade and a few through high school all prodding and poking or encouraging me along the way. As A teacher so seldom do we ever see results of our work. We get to see an End of Course test or Graduation test which really tells little about what and where a student will go or even came from. These almost useless tests basically line the pockets of testing companies who seem to driving educational policy these days.
“In teaching you cannot see the fruit of a day’s work. It is invisible and remains so, maybe for twenty years.” Jacques Barzun
I had another student not in my class ask me what I was doing with my class one day while we were having a Lego challenge. In thirty minutes what can you create from a pile of Lego? We set up a simple rubric and the kids went at it. Then we explained our masterpieces and imaginations went off the wall. As I explained to the student asking what we were doing first we were interacting as human beings then using imagination and finally just having fun. I did not go into how two of my students that period had been self-contained and in resource rooms and or psycho educational classes all their lives. That just getting to be regular was an experience on its own. Sometimes appropriate humor and creativity was what I wanted and did get that was the real lesson today perhaps one day being accepted by others.
“If a doctor, lawyer, or dentist had 40 people in his office at one time, all of whom had different needs, and some of whom didn’t want to be there and were causing trouble, and the doctor, lawyer, or dentist, without assistance, had to treat them all with professional excellence for nine months, then he might have some conception of the classroom teacher’s job.” Donald D. Quinn
So often teachers get a bum rap and there are a few who deserve it most however are dedicated to what they do and take pride in it.
“The teacher who is indeed wise does not bid you to enter the house of his wisdom but rather leads you to the threshold of your mind.” Kahlil Gibran
I have for some time said in order for students to learn they have to want to be in the class and then provide an atmosphere that demands questioning and questions and learning will occur.
“Teaching is the only major occupation of man for which we have not yet developed tools that make an average person capable of competence and performance. In teaching we rely on the “naturals,” the ones who somehow know how to teach.” Peter Drucker
Seldom is this discussed or mentioned when working on a degree which is required by most states for certification and for more money. Most states you have more degrees and get more money. But somewhere in there is that inherent portion of DNA that makes a teacher who they are. Well I am tired so enough for one day peace and please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and always give thanks namaste.
My family and friends I do not say this lightly,
(We are all related)